Will the US attack China? Part 3

The threat of war

An American aircraft carrier transits in formation with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Destroyers
An American aircraft carrier transits in formation with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Destroyers and a guided-missile destroyer during a bilateral training exercise in the East China Sea. (March 9, 2017). Photo: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean M. Castellano/Released.

By Chris Fry

On October 4, Vice President Mike Pence addressed the right-wing think tank Hudson Institute with remarks on the administration’s policy towards China, where he launched a vicious attack on the government of the People’s Republic of China. Part 1 of this series discussed how the People’s Republic of China has used technology from the West in exchange for the surplus labor from its workers to improve the living standards of its people. Part 2 described how Western imperialism, including the U.S., opened the “century of humiliation” for China by using military force to push the “free trade” of opium, devastating the lives of millions and the economy of the country; the U.S. hoped that placing its plants and factories in China would undermine socialism and place China under imperialist control, but that plan failed. Part 3 describes the escalating possibility of a U.S. military attack against the People’s Republic of China, and how the anti-war movement in the U.S. must prepare to resist such a mad adventure.

Fifty-six years ago, in 1962, the world held its breath during the Cuban missile crisis. The U.S. had stationed Jupiter intermediate range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) in both Turkey and Italy. One year prior, the U.S. had organized and backed the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, and a year later, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev proposed to the Fidel Castro government that the Soviet Union secretly place SS-4 medium range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) in Cuba in order to prevent another invasion. Castro reluctantly agreed.

IRBMs and MRBMs have a shorter range than intercontinental ballistic missles (ICBMs), so they must be stationed closer to their targets, but because they give little or no warning before they hit their targets, they are considered dangerous “first strike” weapons.

When the Soviet missiles were discovered by U.S. spy planes, Pentagon generals like Curtis Lemay demanded an immediate invasion of Cuba. Instead, President Kennedy placed a naval blockade around Cuba on October 21. For a week, the two countries came closer to all-out nuclear war than ever before or since.

The crisis was resolved when the Soviet Union agreed to withdraw its missiles in return for the U.S. promising to not invade Cuba and to remove its missiles from Italy and Turkey. Of course, that did not stop CIA’s campaign of attempted assassinations and violent acts of sabotage, as well as the continued economic blockade against revolutionary Cuba that the U.S. has maintained.

Since that time, both the Soviet Union (now capitalist Russia) and the U.S. have developed their long-range ICBM systems, which enabled the principle of mutual assured destruction (MAD), meaning that both countries would be utterly destroyed if either attacked first. In the early 1980s, the intermediate U.S. Pershing missiles sparked huge protests in Europe, leading to the U.S. and the Soviet Union to sign the Intermediate Nuclear Force (INF) treaty in 1987, which banned all intermediate range land-based nuclear weapons. Some 2,700 weapons were dismantled.

Trump nukes INF treaty

On October 20 of this year, Trump announced that the U.S. was pulling out from the INF treaty. “Until people come to their senses, we will build it up,” Trump told reporters at the White House, referring to the U.S. nuclear arsenal. “It’s a threat to whoever you want. And it includes China. And it includes Russia. And it includes anybody else that wants to play that game.” China was never a signatory to the INF treaty, but Trump made sure to target them.

Under the command of Trump, Pence and Bush-era neocon and Iraq war hawk John Bolton, the Pentagon has escalated its provocations in the South China Sea, which borders the east coast of China.

Some $5 trillion worth of shipping pass through the South China Sea each year, much of it going to and from Chinese ports. China has never threatened any commercial ships in the area, yet the U.S. military is constantly parading fleets of aircraft carriers, cruisers and destroyers through these waters, ten thousand miles from the U.S. shore. B-52 bombers make frequent flights over the area.

Bolton told a reporter: “They’ve never seen an American president this tough before. I think their behavior needs to be adjusted in the trade area, in the international, military and political areas, in a whole range of areas. And if they’re put back in the proper place they would be if they weren’t allowed to steal our technology, their military capabilities would be substantially reduced. And a lot of the tensions we see caused by China would be reduced.” (emphasis added)

To reinforce this saber-rattling from the Trump regime, CNN reports that the Pentagon is hatching plans for a show of force along the Chinese coastline this month (November):

The US Navy’s Pacific Fleet has drawn up a classified proposal to carry out a global show of force as a warning to China and to demonstrate the US is prepared to deter and counter their military actions, according to several US defense officials.

The draft proposal from the Navy is recommending the US Pacific Fleet conduct a series of operations during a single week in November.

The goal is to carry out a highly focused and concentrated set of exercises involving US warships, combat aircraft and troops to demonstrate that the US can counter potential adversaries quickly on several fronts.

The plan suggests sailing ships and flying aircraft near China’s territorial waters in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait in freedom of navigation operations to demonstrate the right of free passage in international waters. The proposal means US ships and aircraft would operate close to Chinese forces.

This “show of force” is designed to threaten China either with a blockade or an outright attack, and on November 2, in order to show China that it can overcome its non-nuclear ballistic missiles that could hit a U.S. aircraft carrier, the U.S. announced that it successfully tested an interceptor missile that collided with an intermediate ballistic missile. Such a collision is the only way to destroy a non-nuclear missile, a main defensive Chinese weapon.

What must be done

When Trump was first elected, his ultra-right advisor Steve Bannon predicted a U.S. war with China “within ten years.” The Guardian published an article in January 2017 that predicted that Trump may launch a “distraction” war against China: “Trump has shown himself masterful at hijacking the national conversation to redirect attention away from his scandals and incompetence: ‘the Distractor in Chief’, in the words of the Washington Post’s Paul Farhi. A state of national emergency following an Isis attack, or a war with China to, say, ‘steal our jobs back’ would follow that same pattern – only amplified. We underestimate his desire to maintain that popularity, and the tactics he would employ to do so, at our own peril.”

With the likely election of a Democratic majority to Congress in November and the likely investigations of Trump’s corruption, it would seem quite possible that Trump would launch such a conflict against the People’s Republic of China to maintain his position. With the pro-imperialist posture of both political parties, there is a small likelihood that they would offer real opposition to a war adventure that could cost millions of lives and catastrophic damage.

It is up to the workers and oppressed to prepare to resist such a war. China’s existence as a peaceful, modern socialist state is not a threat to the people of the U.S., it’s only a threat to financial wizards and corporate masters on Wall Street and the general staff at the Pentagon whose only goal is imperialist domination.


Will the U.S. attack China?  Part 1: The quest for new technology

Will the U.S. attack China? Part 2: Trade wars against China, past and present

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